I think the worst kind of unhappiness comes from self sabotage. What’s even worse than that is the fear that stands behind it pushing you to take two steps forward and one step back. After a while I guess you just learn to live in misery and it kind of just becomes something you wear everyday, like a raggedy old sweater you hate but can’t seem to part with.
John loves being miserable, he always has. He’d never admit it, of course, but misery is all he’s ever known. Whenever things worked out the way he wanted and he was happy, he found a way to not want it anymore or screw it up for himself.
Now, John’s not a bad guy and he never means to hurt anyone, he just keeps making the same mistakes, over and over, but I don’t think that’s entirely entirely his fault.
Over the years I’ve come to learn that people are creatures of habit and John is no exception.
Maybe it’s the way he was raised, maybe it’s what he’s used to, hell maybe he doesn’t even realize what he’s doing. I guess it’s just hard see things objectively when you’re standing on the inside and the situation always seems different when it’s about you.
When John first met Kara he fell head over heels for her. I’d never seen him ever want anything so badly. She was so sweet and kind and he slowly began to open up to the idea of happiness, to let her in.
When John married Kara I hoped his old ways were behind him and he’d be happy, and he was- for the first few years…
John was in the shower the morning he decided he didn’t love his wife anymore.
Kara chatted excitedly about how she was to have dinner with her friend Ellie.
“Johnny, are you listening?”
Now, John didn’t like being called that and he almost got around to telling her to stop when they had first started dating.
“Why do you call me that?” he asked her on one of their first dates.
“Because,” she said as she ran her fingers through his hair, “I like you. It’s a term of endearment.”
John let it slide and secretly hoped she would one day stop. If he had asked her she would’ve, but of course, he never did.
“Johnny!” she drew back the curtain shower and smiled at him.
“Sorry honey, I’m still a little sleepy.”
“It’s okay, I’m late for work anyway. I love you,” she leaned in and kissed him. She didn’t mind that some of her hair got wet in the process. John kissed her back and smiled half heartedly.
“I love you, too.” John felt the words shoot out of his mouth like the preprogrammed words on an answering machine.
John sat at his cubicle waiting. His watch read 10:29. His left leg bounced in excitement. John tried his hardest to keep himself busy as the next sixty seconds dragged by, and when the clock finally announced 10:30, he tried his best to not look eager.
He could hear her stilettos from way down the hall and pretended to work on something on his computer.
“Hey John, what are you working on?” Madison leaned on the left wall of his cubicle and put a hand on her hip.
He had been nursing an impossible crush on his coworker Madison.
“Just some sales reports,” John tried not to stare at her chest.
“How fun.” John laughed, although it wasn’t particularly funny. “Wanna take a break and get some coffee instead?”
These short moments making small talk with Madison, or even just watching her walk by each morning at exactly 10:30 and walk back at roughly 10:32 were the best part of John’s day, and they had been since she started working there 4 months ago. Which was, coincidentally, right around the time John decided he wasn’t happy anymore.
John followed her to the break room, absolutely mesmerized by the way her blonde curls bounced when she walked and how her hips swayed from side to side with every step she took. This was the first time she had ever invited him to get coffee.
Madison grabbed two foam cups and handed one to John.
“So John,” she took a sip of her coffee, “Do you hate it here as much as the look on your face makes it seem?”
“No, why do you ask?”
“Well you always have this look that just says ‘somebody, anybody, rescue me please!'”
“Do I really?” John let out a nervous chuckle.
“You look so bored I just had to come save you.”
“Well you’re right about that, this isn’t exactly the most exciting job in the world. You should come rescue me more often.” John was shocked to see how well he had remembered how to flirt.
Even though Kara was constantly trying to tease and excite him, in his mind that part of their relationship was over. He never saw the point, being married to her almost took the fun out of the game. He didn’t have to seduce her anymore, didn’t have to try to be romantic when he knew that he simply had to wait until they were in bed and the eleven o’clock news was over.
He thought perhaps, that he was just a little bored in general. Not just his job, but the whole damn thing had gotten a little dull.
Personally I think that happiness bores John and that he enjoys having drama stir things up.
“So, are you married?” Madeline glanced down at his left hand. Suddenly John was glad he forgot to put on his wedding band.
He shook his head no, just to see what she would say next.
“Why don’t I rescue you tonight? Say around, 8 o’clock at Jerbar downtown?”
“Sure sounds great.” The words left John’s mouth before he could even think about it.
On his way home John repeatedly told himself that having drinks with a coworker was a totally normal and healthy thing to do. It must’ve been fate that Madison asked him out on the day Kara had plans with a friend. And he would never cheat on his wife, he cared about her so very much and it was probably a one time thing.
Either way, he thought, Madison was way out of his league. She was a twenty-something blonde bombshell with killer curves and a breath taking smile. He was a thirty seven year old married man with a receding hairline and a slight gut. Maybe she just wanted to make a friend at work or maybe she was just a really nice girl. Whatever the reason, he decided he wouldn’t think about the matter anymore. He told himself that he would go, have a nice time, and then probably never see her outside of work again.
John slept with Madison for the first time after their third date.
As he lay in bed with her smoking a cigarette, he felt overwhelmed with excitement and joy. Hell, he hadn’t felt this satisfied since he and Kara took that trip to…
And then he remembered. Kara. His lovely wife Kara.
The way her face lit up with happiness that very morning when she told him she was pregnant with their first child. The way disappointment glistened in her eyes when he said he had to work on some papers for work and that he would celebrate with her tomorrow. He had totally forgotten about her. The guilt hit him like a ton of bricks.
Driving home John felt absolutely torn. On one hand he felt like a new man and his confidence was through the roof. On the other hand, he absolutely hated himself for what he had done to his wife and his unborn child.
He didn’t even like Madison all that much. Not the way he liked Kara. Sure, they had sexual chemistry and of course she was beautiful and charming and had a killer rack but that was really it. They didn’t connect emotionally, didn’t really have anything else in common. Not like he did with Kara. Still, he didn’t want to give either one up.
John wondered if he was being punished by some greater being with the inability to make the right choice, or any choice at the matter.
If you’d ask me I’d say he was doing it to himself.
Kara was six months pregnant the Saturday she discovered John was cheating on her.
John had spent six months trying to figure out what he wanted, trying to come clean to either Madison or Kara but he never did. He always convinced himself at the last minutes that it wasn’t the right time or that he simply wasn’t ready.
John began to wonder if it was too selfish of him to want both.
Personally I think after a while he wanted to get caught.
When John announced that he would be visiting his brother upstate for the sixth time that month, Kara became suspicious.
She called John’s brother Andrew and asked to speak to John because he wasn’t answering his cell phone.
“I haven’t seen John in months, darlin’,” Andrew said when she called, “Why? is everything okay?”
Kara dropped the phone, sat down on her kitchen floor and gently began to cry.
The next night she followed him in her car to an apartment in town. He parked and she did too. She then saw a woman meet him outside the apartment building, kiss him and lead him up the stairs.
John was just about to take off his coat when he heard a knock at Madison’s door.
“Honey can you get the door?” Madison yelled from the kitchen.
John pulled the door open and saw his enraged pregnant wife standing before him, angry tears rolling down her cheeks.
Part of him knew this was going to happen someday, that he would open Madison’s door and Kara would be standing there. But he didn’t expect it to be so soon.
“Who is she? I want to know now, John, who the fuck is she.”
Madison walked over to the door with a bottle of open wine in her hand.
“Can I help you?”
“Yea, hi, are you the woman who is fucking my husband?”
John truly felt awful, yet the only thought going through his mind was “how can her voice be so steady when she’s crying this much?”
“Wife…?” Madison looked at John with a look of betray.
“PREGNANT wife. Or did he not tell you?”
Today John is divorced and lives alone. Aside from work and the bi-weekly visits from his two year old daughter, he is almost always alone.
I always thought that the root of John’s problem was control, and fear of what would happen if he ever lost it.
I’ve heard John mumble “I fucking hate my life” a few times now, but I never really believed him because in a way I’m pretty sure this is what he’s always wanted- or at least what he always thought he deserved.
I mean, John is unhappy, but hey, at least he’s unhappy by choice.
And he never thought he was destined for a lifetime of happiness anyway.